Institutional Inequality

Trevon Muhammad October 31, 2011 5

British society has come a long way from the days of “No Irish, No Blacks and No dogs”. Racism is no longer socially acceptable and there are arguably more successful black people than ever before. Despite being just 2% of the UK Population, black players make up over 20% of Premiership players and stars such as Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are among the best paid in their profession. Actors such Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor have become acclaimed Hollywood stars and on the Political front the likes of Diane Abott, David Lammy and Valerie Amos have and continue to make significant contributions.

The success of these individuals has served to convince many that racism no longer exists but statistics, especially those in relation to the Job market and judicial system say otherwise. While the UK Job crisis has been well publicised this year, the racial disparity in the Job market has seen comparatively meagre coverage. According to BBC Statistics, 48% of Young Black people between the ages of 16-24 are unemployed in comparison to just 20% of white people from the same age bracket.

It has been claimed that this is due to black student’s lack of interest in education but this does not explain why Black people are far less likely to be employed that their white counterparts with equal qualifications. A government watchdog found that jobseekers with recognisable African and Asian names were being discriminated against by UK employers.

The sting operation revealed that an applicant who appeared to be white would send nine applications before receiving a positive response of either an invitation to an interview or an encouraging telephone call. Minority candidates with the same qualifications and experience had to send 16 applications before receiving a similar response.

Last year Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf found this to be true. Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf applied to Cathay Pacific airlines for a job as a passenger services officer at Heathrow Airport earlier this year for the seventh time. Mr Zakhrouf, 38, who has lived in Britain since 1991 and is a UK citizen, was told by email he had not been selected for interview once again despite his 17 years of experience. Two days later he reapplied utilising the same CV but changing his name to Ian Woodhouse and was promptly invited for an interview.

James Nkwacha, physics graduate whose family are from Nigeria told the Guardian that he had applied for 60 jobs this year but had only two replies.

“The jobs are within my range. I am qualified for them. But for some reason I have been overlooked”

In a report commissioned by Business in the Community organisation, the Race for Opportunity group (R.F.O.G) found that “Blatant and shocking racism” is present among employers as Sandra Kerr, National director of the R.F.O.G explains;

“Some professions, especially those that offer the best pay, are still not perceived by a large minority of the country’s BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) population as genuine career options It is disappointing that after so many decades of official initiatives … that a significant minority should see institutional racism across the board.”

The report claims that So-called Ethnic minorities account for 10.8% of the population but just 8.5% of the work- force with only 6.3% of those employed as managers. Perhaps this disregard for the value of black people explains why a recent study found that 67% of black men in prison were unemployed before their imprisonment, showing the importance of employment.

Although this is clearly unjust, complaining would be futile as ultimately, we are authors of our own futures. Each of us are capable of developing our talents into skills that can be used to produce jobs for ourselves and others. Rather than lamenting the lack of opportunity, we would be better served pooling our resources and developing opportunities for ourselves.

By uniting and taking responsibility for our communities, we can prevent young men from turning to illegal activities in order to sustain themselves and create a brighter future for younger generations in the process.


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